4 ‘Today in Hazmat History’ Incidents

As the calendar flips another year, many bid good riddance to bad memories, cherish good times and are hopeful for better days ahead. It is also a time when many dust off Harvard Philosophy Professor George Santayana’s famous aphorism “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is in the spirit of Santayana’s words and with the help of our friends at Firefighter Close Calls, we look at a few of the hazmat incidents from New Year’s Eves and New Year’s Days past.

January 1, 2010

A clueless driver passed out in his car at a Tennessee gas station while a batch of methamphetamine was cooking in the back seat.

An employee at the gas station in Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, called police because the car was sitting at the pump for about an hour on New Year’s Day. Police say a chemical process to make the drug was in progress. Some meth-making ingredients can be explosive.

Murfreesboro Assistant Fire Chief Allen Swader said that gas pumps were shut off as a precaution.

Thirty-one-year-old Nathan E. Beasley was held on a $15,000 bond on charges of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, reckless endangerment and manufacturing meth.

December 31, 1977

A Binghamton, N.Y. firefighter died as a result of inhaling deadly fumes from a copier fire at the office of vital statistics in City Hall. He became ill at the station after the fire call and passed away at home the next day.

January 1, 1913

A Portland, Maine firefighter died as a result of inhalation of nitric acid fumes from a carboy spill, which occurred in the basement at H.H. Hayes Drug Store, at Middle and Free Streets. Several of the firefighters were sick and even more became ill back in their firehouses. Ambulances transported seven men to the hospital, and many more were sent home and tended to by their own doctors.

December 31, 1907

A Carthage, New Mexico mine explosion of gas and coal dust killed nine at noon in the Bernal mine at Carthage, Socorro County. The mine was owned by the Carthage Fuel Company.

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